I use Google constantly. Not just the search, but the various other applications and platforms they’ve created as well. I use documents in Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) for collaborative work. I use Google Voice to control my incoming work calls and provide phone access directly from my main website. In short, I spend a significant portion of each day working with them. Out of all the amazing offerings Google has provided, the one that I find ripe with the most potential is Google Hangouts.
A platform in its own right, Hangouts are now expanding outwards from their home as part of Google+. Last week, the Big G began rolling out Hangout functionality to its largest, dedicated user base — Gmail users.
Video and audio chat through Gmail is not a new thing. I’ve been doing both for the past few years. What makes this a major step forward is the additional functionality that Hangouts bring to the table, especially the ability to use apps and real-time group video chat. Collaboration and synchronous media consumption options are integrated directly, allowing up to 10 people to share a group video conference.
Here is an example to demonstrate the strength of the platform. How to create a “TV Show” using hangouts:
Initiate a hangout from your brand’s Google+ Page. When you are getting started, check the On Air option. This will give you a Broadcast button which, when clicked, will transmit your conversation with the people you invite. It can be watched from your Google+ Page or anywhere you can embed a YouTube style block of code. Not only that, but when the Hangout is over, it will archive a recording directly to your YouTube account.
Next week I’ll be providing a step-by-step lesson in which I’ll not only show you how, but I’ll also share a few apps that can make your Hangouts really take on some polish.
If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll try to address them all next week.
George "Loki" Williams is the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content, community management and social media. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters and Kaiser Permanente. He is one of the organizers of the Rising Tide Conference in New Orleans, and his work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, and NOLA.com, among others.